Worsening food shortages have ruined North Korea’s decaying economy and left its hospitals bereft of basic medicines, Red Cross experts said Saturday after a two-week tour of the isolated country.
They found factories idle two-thirds of the time, kindergartens half empty, their children too weak or sick to attend, and people growing food everywhere and selling the meager surplus once unthinkable in the communist country.
“Virtually everybody grows their own vegetables - even in the towns on the balconies,” said Geoffrey Dennis, who led the three-person team that left Pyongyang on Saturday. “But there is no doubt there will be increased suffering over the next few months.”
Dennis said the Red Cross will expand the number of North Koreans it is feeding fivefold to 700,000 people and will begin emergency deliveries of essential drugs and medical equipment.